WO2014112922A2 - Integration between wi-fi and mobile communication networks - Google Patents

Integration between wi-fi and mobile communication networks Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2014112922A2
WO2014112922A2 PCT/SE2013/051592 SE2013051592W WO2014112922A2 WO 2014112922 A2 WO2014112922 A2 WO 2014112922A2 SE 2013051592 W SE2013051592 W SE 2013051592W WO 2014112922 A2 WO2014112922 A2 WO 2014112922A2
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WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
access point
wi
parameter
wireless terminal
fi
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PCT/SE2013/051592
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French (fr)
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WO2014112922A3 (en
Inventor
Oumer Teyeb
Filip MESTANOV
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Telefonaktiebolaget L M Ericsson (Publ)
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Priority to US61/754,046 priority
Application filed by Telefonaktiebolaget L M Ericsson (Publ) filed Critical Telefonaktiebolaget L M Ericsson (Publ)
Publication of WO2014112922A2 publication Critical patent/WO2014112922A2/en
Publication of WO2014112922A3 publication Critical patent/WO2014112922A3/en

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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W48/00Access restriction; Network selection; Access point selection
    • H04W48/08Access restriction or access information delivery, e.g. discovery data delivery
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W84/00Network topologies
    • H04W84/02Hierarchically pre-organised networks, e.g. paging networks, cellular networks, WLAN [Wireless Local Area Network] or WLL [Wireless Local Loop]
    • H04W84/10Small scale networks; Flat hierarchical networks
    • H04W84/12WLAN [Wireless Local Area Networks]
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W88/00Devices specially adapted for wireless communication networks, e.g. terminals, base stations or access point devices
    • H04W88/02Terminal devices
    • H04W88/06Terminal devices adapted for operation in multiple networks or having at least two operational modes, e.g. multi-mode terminals

Abstract

It is presented a method, performed in an access point, the access point providing wireless network access to one or more wireless terminals. The method comprises: obtaining a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point; and transmitting the first activity parameter to a wireless terminal. A corresponding Wi-Fi access point, computer program, computer program product, and wireless terminal are also presented.

Description

INTEGRATION BETWEEN WI-FI AND MOBILE

COMMUNICATION NETWORKS

BACKGROUND

With the proliferation of devices that have support for both Wi-Fi and mobile communication networks (such as 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) mobile broadband), offloading traffic to the Wi-Fi network is becoming very interesting, both from user's and operator's perspective. The main difference between traffic steering in the Wi-Fi case as compared to steering between mobile communication networks is that it is the terminal that decides when it shall select a Wi-Fi Access Point (AP) while in the latter case it is the network that is in charge of the network access decisions. Due to technical and historical reasons, the Wi-Fi deployment scenario is in many cases fundamentally different than the cellular deployment. For this reason, special considerations have to be made when integrating Wi-Fi to mobile communication networks.

In some situations, it is the wireless terminal which evaluates the situation whether to connect to a Wi-Fi AP or not. It would be beneficial to improve the basis upon which the wireless terminal makes that decision.

SUMMARY

It is an object to improve the basis upon which the wireless terminal makes a decision whether to connect to a Wi-Fi AP or not.

According to a first aspect, it is presented a method, performed in an access point, the access point providing wireless network access to one or more wireless terminals. The method comprises: obtaining a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point (4); and transmitting the first activity parameter to a wireless terminal. In the prior art, only an indication of the number of connected wireless terminals is provided, which includes passive wireless terminals. Such passive wireless terminals can be passive for long periods of time and influences load much less than active wireless terminals. Hence, by providing the number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are in active communication, the wireless terminal is given better information than in the prior art upon which to base a decision whether to connect to the Wi-Fi AP or not.

Actively communicating may indicate a wireless terminal receiving and/ or transmitting data from/to the access point.

The method may further comprise: obtaining a second activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point, and transmitting the second activity parameter to the wireless terminal. This allows the wireless terminal to determine the number of passive terminals by subtracting the total number of connected wireless terminals with the number of active wireless terminals. A passive wireless terminal is likely to, at some point, become an active wireless terminal again. In this way, the wireless terminal is given a more complete picture for deciding whether to attempt to connect or not.

A wireless terminal may be considered to be actively communicating as long as an inactivity timer for the wireless terminal in question has not expired.

Optionally, the inactivity timer is only reset when data more than a threshold level is communicated between the access point and the wireless terminal in question before the inactivity timer expires.

The method may further comprise: obtaining an external utilisation parameter, the external utilisation parameter indicating non- Wi-Fi utilisation on a wireless communication channel of the access point; and transmitting the external utilisation parameter to the wireless terminal. The external utilisation is another factor for the wireless terminal to better determine load and expected throughput using the Wi-Fi AP.

The method may further comprise: obtaining a bias parameter; applying the bias parameter to a previously obtained capacity affecting parameter, to increase or decrease the capacity affecting parameter, resulting in a biased capacity affected parameter; and transmitting the biased capacity affected parameter to the wireless terminal. By using the bias parameter, the decision whether to connect to the Wi-Fi AP or not can be influenced to increase or decrease the likelihood of a wireless terminal connecting.

When present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/or the external utilisation parameter maybe transmitted as part of a BSS, Basic Service Set, load element message.

The Wi-Fi access point may further comprise means for broadcasting, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter to the wireless terminal.

The Wi-Fi access point may further comprise means for transmitting, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/or the external utilisation parameter specifically to the wireless terminal as a response to a request from the wireless terminal.

The Wi-Fi access point may further comprise means for performing the communication between the wireless terminal and the access point using ANQP, Access Network Query Protocol, messages.

The Wi-Fi access point may further comprise means for transmitting, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter scaled up or down depending on wireless terminal capability and/or operator policy.

According to a second aspect, it is presented a Wi-Fi access point of a Wi-Fi network, the access point providing wireless network access to one or more wireless terminals. The Wi-Fi access point comprises: processor; and a computer program product storing instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the Wi-Fi access point to: obtain a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point; and transmit the first activity parameter to a wireless terminal.

The instructions to obtain a first activity parameter may comprise

instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the Wi-Fi access point to consider actively communicating to indicate a wireless terminal receiving and/or transmitting data from/to the access point.

The Wi-Fi access point may further comprise instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the Wi-Fi access point to: obtain a second activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point, and transmit the second activity parameter to the wireless terminal.

The instructions to obtain a first activity parameter may comprise

instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the Wi-Fi access point to consider a wireless terminal to be actively communicating as long as an inactivity timer for the wireless terminal in question has not expired.

The instructions to obtain a first activity parameter may comprise

instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the Wi-Fi access point to reset the inactivity timer only when data more than a threshold level is communicated between the access point and the wireless terminal in question before the inactivity timer expires.

The Wi-Fi access point may further comprise the instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the Wi-Fi access point to: obtain an external utilisation parameter, the external utilisation parameter indicating non-Wi-Fi utilisation on a wireless communication channel of the access point; and transmit the external utilisation parameter to the wireless terminal.

The Wi-Fi access point may further comprise instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the Wi-Fi access point to: obtain a bias parameter; apply the bias parameter to a previously obtained capacity affecting parameter, to increase or decrease the capacity affecting parameter, resulting in a biased capacity affected parameter; and transmit the biased capacity affected parameter to the wireless terminal. The Wi-Fi access point may further comprise instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the Wi-Fi access point to transmit, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/or the external utilisation parameter as part of a BSS, Basic Service Set, load element message. The Wi-Fi access point may further comprise instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the Wi-Fi access point to broadcast, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/or the external utilisation parameter to the wireless terminal.

The Wi-Fi access point may further comprise instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the Wi-Fi access point to transmit, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/or the external utilisation parameter specifically to the wireless terminal as a response to a request from the wireless terminal.

The Wi-Fi access point may comprise instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the Wi-Fi access point perform the communication with the wireless terminal using ANQP, Access Network Query Protocol, messages.

The Wi-Fi access point may further comprise instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the Wi-Fi access point to scale up or down, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter depending on wireless terminal capability and/or operator policy.

According to a third aspect, it is presented a computer program comprising computer program code which, when run on an access point providing wireless network access to one or more wireless terminals, causes the access point to: obtain a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point; and transmit the first activity parameter to a wireless terminal. According to a fourth aspect, it is presented a computer program product comprising a computer program according to the third aspect and a computer readable means on which the computer program is stored.

According to a fifth aspect, it is presented a Wi-Fi access point comprising: means for obtaining a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point; and means for transmitting the first activity parameter to a wireless terminal.

Actively communicating may indicate a wireless terminal receiving and/ or transmitting data from/to the access point. The method may further comprise: obtaining a second activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point, and transmitting the second activity parameter to the wireless terminal.

A wireless terminal maybe considered to be actively communicating as long as an inactivity timer for the wireless terminal in question has not expired.

Optionally, the inactivity timer is only reset when data more than a threshold level is communicated between the access point and the wireless terminal in question before the inactivity timer expires.

The method may further comprise: obtaining an external utilisation parameter, the external utilisation parameter indicating non- Wi-Fi utilisation on a wireless communication channel of the access point; and transmitting the external utilisation parameter to the wireless terminal. The method may further comprise: obtaining a bias parameter; applying the bias parameter to a previously obtained capacity affecting parameter, to increase or decrease the capacity affecting parameter, resulting in a biased capacity affected parameter; and transmitting the biased capacity affected parameter to the wireless terminal.

When present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter may be transmitted as part of a BSS, Basic Service Set, load element message.

When present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter may be broadcast to the wireless terminal.

When present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter may be transmitted specifically to the wireless terminal as a response to a request from the wireless terminal. The communication between the wireless terminal and the access point may occur using ANQP, Access Network Query Protocol, messages.

When present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter may be transmitted scaled up or down depending on wireless terminal capability and/or operator policy. According to a sixth aspect, it is presented a method performed in a wireless terminal comprising: receiving a broadcast signal from an access point, the broadcast signal indicating a Wi-Fi standard/revision of the access point; receiving a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point; when the Wi-Fi standard/ revision is newer than or equal to a revision indicator, interpreting the first activity parameter to indicate the number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point; when the Wi-Fi standard/revision is older than the revision indicator, interpreting the first activity parameter to indicate the total number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point; and determining whether to connect to the access point based on the first activity parameter.

A wireless terminal may be considered to be actively communicating with the access point as long as an inactivity timer for the wireless terminal in question has not expired.

The inactivity timer may be only reset when data more than a threshold level is communicated between the access point and the wireless terminal in question before the inactivity timer expires. The method may further comprise the step of: transmitting an ANQP, Access Network Query Protocol, message requesting the access point to send the first activity parameter, wherein the ANQP message comprises capability information of the wireless terminal.

According to a seventh aspect, it is presented a wireless terminal comprising: a processor; and a computer program product storing instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the wireless terminal to: receive a broadcast signal from an access point, the broadcast signal indicating a Wi-Fi standard/revision of the access point; receive a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point; when the Wi-Fi standard/revision is newer than or equal to a revision indicator, interpret the first activity parameter to indicate the number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point; when the Wi-Fi standard/ revision is older than the revision indicator, interpret the first activity parameter to indicate the total number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point; and determine whether to connect to the access point based on the first activity parameter.

According to an eighth aspect, it is presented a computer program

comprising computer program code which, when run on a wireless terminal, causes the wireless terminal to: receive a broadcast signal from an access point, the broadcast signal indicating a Wi-Fi standard/revision of the access point; receive a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point; when the Wi-Fi standard/ revision is newer than or equal to a revision indicator, interpret the first activity parameter to indicate the number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point; when the Wi-Fi standard/revision is older than the revision indicator, interpret the first activity parameter to indicate the total number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point; and determine whether to connect to the access point based on the first activity parameter.

According to a ninth aspect, it is presented a computer program product comprising a computer program according to the eighth aspect and a computer readable means on which the computer program is stored. According to a tenth aspect, it is presented a wireless terminal comprising: means for receiving a broadcast signal from an access point, the broadcast signal indicating a Wi-Fi standard/revision of the access point; means for receiving a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point; means for, when the Wi-Fi standard/ revision is newer than or equal to a revision indicator, interpreting the first activity parameter to indicate the number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point; means for, when the Wi-Fi standard/revision is older than the revision indicator, interpreting the first activity parameter to indicate the total number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point; and means for determining whether to connect to the access point based on the first activity parameter.

The wireless terminal may comprise means for considering a wireless terminal to be actively communicating with the access point as long as an inactivity timer for the wireless terminal in question has not expired. The wireless terminal may comprise means for resetting the inactivity timer when data more than a threshold level is communicated between the access point and the wireless terminal in question before the inactivity timer expires. Wi-Fi is to be understood to be a wireless network that is based on any one or more of the IEEE 802.11 standards.

It is to be noted that whenever used in the claims and description herein, the phrase to "connect to an access point" is equivalent to "associate with an access point". Generally, all terms used in the claims are to be interpreted according to their ordinary meaning in the technical field, unless explicitly defined otherwise herein. All references to "a/an/the element, apparatus, component, means, step, etc." are to be interpreted openly as referring to at least one instance of the element, apparatus, component, means, step, etc., unless explicitly stated otherwise. The steps of any method disclosed herein do not have to be performed in the exact order disclosed, unless explicitly stated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is now described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: Fig 1 is a schematic diagram illustrating an overall architecture for a system where embodiments presented herein can be applied;

Fig 2 is a schematic diagram illustrating a functional split between E-UTRAN and EPC;

Fig 3A is a schematic diagram illustrating the user plane of a Wi-Fi system; Fig 3B is a schematic diagram illustrating the control plane of a Wi-Fi system;

Fig 4 is a schematic diagram illustrating an ANDSF (Access Network

Discovery and Selection Function) architecture which may be applied to combine a mobile communication network of Figs 1/ 2 and the Wi-Fi system of Figs 3A/3B;

Fig 5 is a schematic diagram illustrating a data element used to indicate load in the Wi-Fi systems of Figs 3A-3B, Fig 4; Fig 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating a data element used to indicate WAN metrics in the Wi-Fi systems of Figs 3A-3B and Fig 4;

Fig 7 is a schematic diagram illustrating an integration of the ANDSF architecture of Fig 4 and a hotspot 2.0 architecture;

Fig 8 is a schematic diagram illustrating a system in which embodiments presented herein can be applied;

Fig 9 is a schematic diagram showing some components of the wireless terminal;

Fig 10 is a schematic diagram showing some components of the Wi-Fi access point; Figs 11A-B are flow charts illustrating methods performed in the access point of Fig 10;

Fig 12 is a flow chart illustrating a method performed in the wireless terminal of Fig 9;

Fig 13 is a schematic diagram showing one example of a computer program product 90 comprising computer readable means;

Fig 14 is a schematic diagram showing functional modules of the wireless terminal of Fig 9; and

Fig 15 is a schematic diagram showing functional modules of the Wi-Fi access point of Fig 10. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which certain embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided by way of example so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout the description. Embodiment presented herein relate to several aspects of integrating Wi-Fi and mobile communication networks, in order to steer traffic while considering both the end user's as well as the network's performance.

Fig l is a schematic diagram illustrating an overall architecture for a system where embodiments presented herein can be applied. Overall E-UTRAN architecture

The Evolved UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System)

Terrestrial Radio Access Network (E-UTRAN) comprises base stations called enhanced NodeBs (eNBs or eNodeBs) l, providing the E-UTRA (Evolved UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access) user plane and control plane protocol terminations towards the wireless terminal (also known in many network standards as User Equipment (UE)). The eNBs l are interconnected with each other by means of the X2 interface. The eNBs ι are also connected by means of the Si interface to the core network (CN) 3, EPC (Evolved Packet Core), more specifically to the MME (Mobility Management Entity) by means of the Si-MME interface and to the Serving Gateway (S-GW) by means of the Si-U interface. The MME and the S-GW are here exemplified as forming part of the same respective node 100, 100', but this is not necessarily the case. The Si interface supports many-to-many relation between MMEs / S-GWs 100 and eNBs 1. The E-UTRAN architecture is illustrated in Fig 1. The eNB 1 hosts functionalities such as Radio Resource Management (RRM), radio bearer control, admission control, header compression of user plane data towards serving gateway, routing of user plane data towards the serving gateway. The MME is the control node that processes the signaling between the wireless terminal and the CN 3. The main functions of the MME are related to connection management and bearer management, which are handled via Non Access Stratum (NAS) protocols. The S-GW is the anchor point for wireless terminal mobility, and also includes other functionalities such as temporary DL data buffering while the wireless terminal is being paged, packet routing and forwarding the right eNB, gathering of information for charging and lawful interception. The PDN (Packet Data Network) Gateway (P-GW) (forming part of the second node 100' of Fig 1) is the node responsible for wireless terminal IP address allocation, as well as Quality of Service (QoS) enforcement (this is explained further below). Fig 2 is a schematic diagram illustrating a functional split between E-UTRAN and EPC. Fig 2 gives a summary of the functionalities of the different nodes, and the reader is referred to 3GPP TS 36.300 and the references therein for the details of the functionalities of the different nodes.

The eNB 1 on the E-UTRAN side 140 comprises the following functional entities for intercell RRM 102, RB (Radio Bearer) control 103, connection mobility control 104, radio admission control 105, eNB measurement configuration and provision 106 and dynamic resource allocation

(scheduling) 107. Moreover, the eNB comprises the following radio protocol layers: RRC (Radio Resource Control) 109, PDCP (Packet Data Convergence Protocol) 110, RLC (Radio Link Control) 111, MAC (Media Access Control) 112 and PHY (Physical Layer) 113.

The MME contains the following functional entities: NAS security 116, Idle state mobility handling 117 and EPS (Evolved Packet System) bearer control 118. The S-GW 120 contains a functional entity for mobility anchoring 121. The P-GW 122 contains functional entities for UE IP (Internet Protocol) address allocation 123 and packet filtering 124. The P-GW 122 is also connected to the Internet 7 for IP communication.

The MME 115, the S-GW 120 and the P-GW 122 form part of the CN 3.

Traffic offloading using Wi-Fi

Using Wi-Fi/WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) (the two terms are used interchangeably throughout this document) to offload traffic from the mobile networks is becoming more and more interesting from both the operator's and end users point of view. Some of the reasons for this tendency are:

Additional frequency: by using Wi-Fi, operators and/ or the subscribers can get an additional 85MHz in the 2.4GHz band and another (close to) 500MHz in the 5GHz band.

Cost: From operator's point of view, Wi-Fi uses unlicensed frequency that is free of charge. On top of that, the cost of Wi-Fi APs (Access Points), both from CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) and OPEX (Operational Expenditure) (deployment) aspects, is considerably lower than that of a base station (BS/eNB) of a mobile communication network. Operators can also take advantage of already deployed APs that are deployed in hotspots such as train stations, airports, stadiums, shopping malls, etc. Most end users are also currently used to having Wi-Fi for no additional charge at home (as home broadband subscriptions are typically flat rate) and public places.

Terminal support: Almost all wireless terminals such as smartphones and other portable devices currently available in the market support Wi-Fi. In the Wi-Fi world, the term Station (STA) is often used instead of wireless terminal. It is to be understood that the term wireless terminal is used herein and corresponds to STA, in the context of Wi-Fi.

High data rate: Under low interference conditions and assuming the user is close to the Wi-Fi AP, Wi-Fi can provide peak data rates that outshine that of current mobile networks (for example, theoretically up to 600Mbps for IEEE 802.1m deployments with MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output)). Fig 3A is a schematic diagram illustrating the user plane of a Wi-Fi system and Fig 3B is a schematic diagram illustrating the control plane of a Wi-Fi system. On the user plane as seen in Fig 3A, a lean architecture is employed where one or more wireless terminals 2 are connected to the Wi-Fi AP 4, which can be directly connected to the Internet 7 to access an application 6. In the control plane seen in Fig 3B, a WI-FI Access Point Controller (AC) 10 handles the management of the AP 4. One AC 10 usually handles the management of several APs 4. Security/authentication of users is handled via an Authentication, Authorisation and Accounting (AAA) entity 11. Remote Administration Dial In User Service (RADIUS) is the most widely used network protocol for providing a centralised AAA management.

Fig 4 is a schematic diagram illustrating an ANDSF (Access Network

Discovery and Selection Function) architecture which may be applied to combine a mobile communication network of Figs 1/ 2 and the Wi-Fi system of Figs 3A/3B.

Access Network Discovery and Selection Function

The Access Network Discovery and Selection Function (ANDFS) 14 is an entity defined by 3GPP for providing access discovery information as well as mobility and routing policies to the wireless terminal 2. ANDFS 14 is a new entity added to the 3GPP architecture in Release 8 of 3GPP TS 23.402. A simplified ANDSF architecture is depicted in Fig 4. As shown in the figure, the ANDSF server 14 is only connected to the wireless terminal and its main goal is to provide the wireless terminal 2 with access network information in a resource efficient and secure manner. The communication between the wireless terminal 2 and the ANDSF server 14 is defined as an IP-based S14- interface.

By supplying information about available both 3GPP (mobile

communication) and non-3GPP (such as Wi-Fi) access networks to the wireless terminal, the ANDSF 14 enables an energy-efficient mechanism of network discovery, where the wireless terminal 2 can avoid continuous and energy-consuming background scanning. Furthermore, the ANDSF 14 l6 provides the mobile operators with a tool for the implementation of flexible and efficient wireless terminal steering of access mechanisms, where policy control can guide wireless terminals to select one particular RAN (Radio Access Network) over another. Note that this may be an overstatement if ANDSF 14 is implemented as an "app", since it relies on OS support and priority of ANDSF 14 in relation to other "apps". This condition may be only partly fulfilled, which makes the control somewhat unreliable.

The ANDSF supplies three types of information - discovery information, inter-system mobility policies (ISMP) and inter-system routing policies (ISRP). All these are summarised and implemented via ANDSF managed objects (MO), which are communicated to the wireless terminals 2 via an over-the-top (OTT) signaling channel, as SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) XML (Extensible Markup Language) messages.

The discovery information provides the wireless terminal with information regarding the availability of different RATs (Radio Access Technologies) in the wireless terminal's vicinity. This helps the wireless terminal to discover available (3GPP and) non-3GPP access networks without the burden of continuous background scanning. Inter-System Mobility Policies (ISMP) are policies which guide the wireless terminal to select the most preferable 3GPP or non-3GPP access. The ISMP is used for wireless terminals that access a single access (3GPP or Wi-Fi) at a time (some wireless terminals are able to simultaneously access 3GPP and Wi-Fi). The ISMP information specifies the behaviour of wireless terminals, which can be connected to only one access network at a given time (either 3GPP, Wi-Fi, WiMAX (Worldwide

Interoperability for Microwave Access), etc.). If the wireless terminal, however, supports connection to several access networks at the same time, the operator can use the third type of information, ISRP, to increase the granularity of the RAN selection. In that case, the wireless terminals will be provided with policies, which specify how the traffic flows should be distributed over the different RAN (for example, voice is only allowed to be carried over 3GPP RA, while Internet video streaming and best-effort traffic can be routed via WLAN). The ANDSF provides mobile operators with a tool to determine how the wireless terminals connect to different RANs and hence allows them to add more flexibility in their traffic planning.

Hotspot 2.0

Different standards organisations have started to recognise the needs for an enhanced user experience for Wi-Fi access, this process being driven by 3GPP operators. An example of this is the Wi-Fi Alliance with the HotSpot 2.0 (HS2.0) initiative, now officially called Passpoint. HS2.0 is primarily geared toward Wi-Fi networks. HS2.0 builds on a standard called IEEE 802. nu, and adds requirements on authentication mechanisms and auto-provisioning support.

The momentum of Hot-Spot 2.0 is due to its roaming support, its mandatory security requirements and for the level of control it provides over the terminal for network discovery and selection. Even if the current release of HS2.0 is not geared toward mobile communication network interworking, mobile communication operators are trying to introduce additional traffic steering capabilities, leveraging HS2.0 802. nu mechanisms. Because of the high interest of mobile communication operators, there will be a second release of HS2.0 focusing on mobile communication network interworking requirements. HS2.0 contains the following procedures:

Discovery: where the terminal discovers the Wi-Fi network, and probes them for HS2.0 support, using 802. nu and HS 2.0 extensions;

Registration is performed by the terminal toward the Wi-Fi Hot-spot network if there is no valid subscription for that network; Provisioning: Policy related to the created account is pushed toward the terminal. This only takes place when a registration takes place;

Access: cover the requirements and procedures to connect to a HS2.0 Wi-Fi network. l8

One of the attractive aspects of HS2.0 is that it provides information for the wireless terminal 2 that it can be used to evaluate the load of the Wi-Fi network before attempting the authentication process, thereby avoid unnecessary connection to highly loaded Wi-Fi network. The load conditions that the wireless terminal can evaluate are: BSS (Basic Service Set) load element and WAN (Wide Area Network) metrics element.

Fig 5 is a schematic diagram illustrating a data element used to indicate basic service set metrics 15 in the Wi-Fi systems of Figs 3A-3B and Fig 4. The BSS load element 15 is actually a part of the original IEEE 802.11 standard and provides information about the AP population and the current over-the-air traffic levels. It is transmitted from the AP 4 to the wireless terminal 2e.g. using a Beacon or a Query Response frame and is used for vendor-specific AP-selection algorithms. The element is described in detail in Chapter 8.4.2.30 of IEEE 802.11. The BSS load element 15 comprises an element ID 16, a length field 17 a station count field 18, a channel utilisation field 19 and an available admission capacity field 20. Optionally, there is an active station count field 29. The station count field 18 is an unsigned integer indicating the total number of wireless terminals currently connected to the AP. In the prior art, there is no active station count field 29 and the station count field 18 indicates the total number of connected wireless terminals, which includes passive wireless terminals. Such passive wireless terminals can be passive for long periods of time and influences load much less than active wireless terminals. As described in more detail below, by providing the number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are in active communication, either in the station count field 18 or the active station count field, a wireless terminal considering to connect is given better information than in the prior art upon which to base its decision.

The "Channel Utilisation" field 19 indicates the proportion of time that the AP senses the medium as busy. The available admission capacity field 20 is a two octet long field containing an unsigned integer specifying the remaining amount of medium time available via explicit admission control, in units of 32 μβ/β. The station count field 18 is an activity parameter indicating the number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point in question. In one embodiment, this now indicates the number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point. This is described in more detail below.

Optionally, the BSS load element 15 comprises the active station count field. This is an activity parameter which indicates the number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point. When the active station count field 29 is part of the BSS load element 15, the station count 18 can indicate the total number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point.

Fig 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating a data element used to indicate WAN metrics 21 in the Wi-Fi systems of Figs 3A-3B, Fig 4. The WAN metrics element 21 is one of the extra features that HotSpot™ 2.0 adds to the IEEE 802. liu amendment. The WAN metrics element 21 can be obtained via an ANQP (Access Network Query Protocol) query (by requesting the element "ANQP Vendor Specific list") and it provides the following information about the AP point in question: WAN info 22, downlink speed 23, uplink speed 24, downlink load 25, uplink load 26 and LMD (Load Measurement Duration) 27. LMD 27 represents the duration over which the downlink load and uplink load have been measured, in tenths of a second. The WAN metrics element 21 is described in detail in Chapter 4.4 of the Hs2.o specification.

Identified Problems

Device connection managers are installed in some wireless terminals either in operating systems or as an OTT (Over-the-top) application. The connection manager can discover available access networks, and make connection decision based on service type, user preference and potentially link quality in order to get better QoE (Quality of Experience).

The behaviour of connection manager based access selection and traffic steering varies significantly between operating systems and applications, which makes it very difficult for operators to troubleshoot and optimise user experience. With very limited operator control, the terminal behaviour is unexpected hence network performance is easily degraded.

ANDSF policies are either static or semi-static, and they are not adaptive to fast changing radio environments and system loads. Even though it is possible to enhance the ANDSF to include radio link quality into the policies, the current mechanism is limited by the update frequency of the polices, since it might generate significant signaling traffic. Therefore even an enhanced ANDSF would not be capable of guiding the terminal to an access, which provides the best QoE.

In terms of mobile communication network interworking, HS2.o's role is mainly to improve usability and facilitate access selection by providing both the Wi-Fi over-the-air and backhaul loads. It is not expected that HS2.0 will support operator controlled dynamic access selection. The ANDSF and HotSpot2.o mechanisms described above are not targeting tight integration of Wi-Fi considering network information (e.g. load in different accesses, bitrates, etc.). The reason for this is that the exact wireless terminal behaviour is not specified and the parameters do not include radio information. There is, however, work starting in 3GPP SA2 and Wi-Fi

Alliance HotSpot2.o Release 2 to enhance ANDSF to take into account the Hotspot 2.0 solutions. One example is that the ANDSF policy could define wireless terminal actions based on the information received from the Wi-Fi AP about the BSS load and WAN metric (using a "BSS load element" and "WAN metrics element" respectively). Fig 7 is a schematic diagram illustrating an integration of the ANDSF architecture of Fig 4 and a hotspot 2.0 architecture. The wireless terminal 2 comprises a connection manager 150 which controls which interface (the 3GPP protocol stack 152 and/or the WiFi protocol stack 153) should be active, directly or via data in a memory 151. A location source 154 (e.g. GPS, Global Positioning System) is also connected to the connection manager 150. The wireless terminal 2 also comprises an ANDSF client 155 module

corresponding to the ANDSF server 14. The ANDSF server 14 sends policies 160 using ANDSF signalling over IP to the wireless terminal 2. The wireless terminal 2 is connected to e.g. with an access point 4 that uses protocols defined in HS 2.0 161.

By combining the information from the "BSS load element" and "WAN metrics element", the wireless terminal 2 can get some idea about the expected performance (data rate) in the Wi-Fi network. However, the information can be quite unreliable. One reason for this unreliability is that the utilisation that the AP reports can be affected by interference from other radio sources (e.g. non- Wi-Fi radio systems).

Another reason for this unreliability is that all wireless terminals connected to (also known as associated with) the AP are included in the station count (18 of Fig 5) in the prior art, regardless of their activity level. However, due to the shared access nature of Wi-Fi, what really matters is the number of wireless terminals that are using the medium actively. For example, if the utilisation is 100% and station count is 10 but only one wireless terminal has active traffic, a new wireless terminal can expect to get around 50% of the medium once it starts using the AP. On the other hand, if all ten stations were active, we can expect the new wireless terminal to get only around 9% (1/ 11) of the medium.

Additionally, the WAN metrics element (21 of Fig 6) that is sent to a wireless terminal 2 in a unicast fashion upon request, is not wireless terminal specific. In other words, two wireless terminals that have completely different capabilities will get the same information, assuming they query for the information during a duration the backhaul conditions do not change.

In embodiments presented herein, enhancements on the Wi-Fi side

(regarding both the "BSS load element" and/ or "WAN metrics element") are provided that can be used to make the broadcasted information more usable for the wireless terminals and the unicasted information more wireless terminal specific.

The embodiments presented herein facilitate tighter integration between mobile communication networks and Wi-Fi by defining new enhancements on the Wi-Fi side. The broadcasted "BSS load element" is enhanced to include additional information for better estimation of expected Wi-Fi performance. Optionally, the unicasted "WAN metrics element" information is made adaptable to the wireless terminal that is requesting it. Some embodiments presented herein also encompass the case when the "BSS load element" and/or "WAN metrics element" are scaled up/down so that the values they provide reflect operator policy for access selection.

The embodiments presented herein provide enhancements to broadcasted ("BSS load element") and/ or unicasted ("WAN metrics element") information to the wireless terminal. Enhancements to broadcasted information ("BSS load element")

In a first embodiment, the BSS load element (15 of Fig 5) transmitted from the AP, e.g. to a wireless terminal, can be enhanced to include an activity parameter being the number of wireless terminals (STAs) that are actively transmitting/receiving in addition to an activity parameter being the total number of wireless terminals (STAs) connected to the AP, in order to make the wireless terminal perform a better estimation on the expected Wi-Fi throughput before trying to associate/connect with it.

In a second embodiment, the activity parameter (station count 18 of Fig 5) being the number of wireless terminals (STAs) that are reported in the "BSS load element" are only those that are actively communicating with the AP. In this case, the wireless terminal can figure out whether the station count is referring to the total number of connected wireless terminals (STAs) or only the active ones by looking into the version of the Wi-Fi standard/revision that is also regularly broadcasted by the AP. That is, if a terminal finds that the AP is using an old standard it knows that the broadcasted station count is the total number of connected wireless terminals (STAs). On the other hand, in case the terminal detects that the AP is using a newer version/ revision of the standard, it knows that the station count only includes those wireless terminals (STAs) that are active. The decision whether to consider a wireless terminal to be active or not can be defined based on thresholds and timers. One example is to consider a wireless terminal active as long as an inactivity timer for the wireless terminal has not expired. Such an inactivity timer is reset whenever communication (reception and/or transmission) occurs. In another example, even if a wireless terminal sends or receives data during that duration, but if the exchanged data is less than a certain value, it is also considered as inactive.

As mentioned in above, the channel utilisation information (19 of Fig 5) included in the "BSS load element" also accounts for channel utilisation caused by non-Wi-Fi radios (e.g. IEEE 802.15.4). In a third embodiment, the "BSS load element" information can also be enhanced to explicitly include this information (e.g. separate fields for Wi-Fi utilisation and non-Wi-Fi utilisation). The main reason why it can be beneficial for the wireless terminal to know the non-Wi-Fi utilisation is that the non-Wi-Fi part of the channel utilisation can be considered as "unusable" (i.e., Wi-Fi wireless terminals cannot compete for it) and the wireless terminal can consider sharing only a part of the "rest" of the medium with the other wireless terminals (STAs). For example, if the utilisation is 100% (50% due to non- Wi-Fi utilisation and 50% due to Wi-Fi utilisation) and the active station count is 2, a new wireless terminal can expect to get around 1/ 6 of the medium (i.e. Vi of the medium is available, and 1/ 3 of the remaining half can be made available for the new wireless terminal).

Optionally, the channel utilisation information (19 of Fig 5) contains only information about the Wi-Fi utilisation, and thus excludes utilisation caused by non-Wi-Fi devices. In a fourth embodiment, the "BSS load element" information can be biased on purpose to influence the wireless terminal decision to offload or not to Wi- Fi. This is especially handy in scenarios where the operator has control over both the mobile communication and Wi-Fi networks, but the access selection decision is performed by the wireless terminal. For example, consider a case where there are just a couple of wireless terminals in the current serving cell of the mobile communication network and the network decides to offload both these wireless terminals to Wi-Fi for the sake of energy saving. This can be facilitated if the Wi-Fi APs in the neighborhood of the concerned cell are instructed to advertise "BSS load element" information that is more attractive for the wireless terminals to offload to Wi-Fi (e.g. lower channel utilisation or/ and number of stations). Another example is the reversed situation, where the wireless terminals make the decision to offload to Wi-Fi, but the network would rather keep them in the mobile communication network (a very commonly observed scenario nowadays). In that case an AP (or several APs) can report high channel utilisation or/and number of stations in the "BSS load element" on purpose so that wireless terminals avoid connecting to Wi- Fi, but stay in the mobile communication network instead.

Enhancements to unicasted information ("WAN metrics element")

In a fifth embodiment, we propose an alternative to changing the contents of the "BSS load element" as described above. In this embodiment we can keep the "BSS load element" as is and let the wireless terminal ask for specific information. This can be accomplished, for example, by introducing a new ANQP message where the wireless terminal can send a request and the AP responds by sending detailed load information described above such as channel utilisation, number of active wireless terminals (STAs), number of active wireless terminals (STAs) in the UL, number of active wireless terminals (STAs) in the DL, etc. In this way, the load information can be made wireless terminal specific. This can be done either implicitly or explicitly. The Type Allocation Code (TAC), which is the initial eight digit portion of the 15 digit International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) code, identifies a particular model (and often revision) of a wireless device. The Wi- Fi side can have (or has access to) a mapping of the TAC to the device capability, and the load information can be scaled up and down based on that. Another possibility is for the wireless terminal to supply explicit capability information in the request. Apart from the wireless terminal capability, the AP can also utilise the wireless terminal's Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) or the Received Channel Power Indicator (RCPI) to scale the load information.

In a sixth embodiment, the "WAN metric element" (standardised in WFA HS 2.0 specification) transmitted from the AP to the wireless terminal can be scaled up or down depending on the wireless terminal capability, RSSI/RCPI and operator's policy. For example, in a situation where the operator prefers that a particular wireless terminal stayed in the mobile communication network rather than connecting to Wi-Fi, the Network can "falsely" increase the "Downlink/Uplink load" in the "WAN metrics element" so that the wireless terminal "sees" the Wi-Fi network as loaded and decides to stay in the mobile communication network. If the operator, however, wants to promote offloading to Wi-Fi, the "Downlink/Uplink load" can be scaled down so that the wireless terminal "sees" the Wi-Fi network as unloaded and decides to connect to it.

Fig 8 is a schematic diagram illustrating a mobile communication network 8 where embodiments presented herein may be applied. The mobile

communication network 8 comprises a core network 3 and one or more radio base stations 1, here in the form of evolved Node Bs, also known as eNode Bs or eNBs. The radio base stations 1 could also be in the form of Node Bs, and/ or BTSs (Base Transceiver Stations), etc. The radio base stations 1 provide radio connectivity to a plurality of wireless terminals 2. The term wireless terminal is also known as mobile communication terminal, user equipment (UE), station (STA), mobile terminal, user terminal, user agent, machine-to-machine devices etc., and can be, for example, what today are commonly known as a mobile phone or a tablet/laptop with wireless connectivity or fixed mounted terminal. Moreover, the wireless terminals 2 may but do not need to, be associated with a particular end user. The mobile communication network 8 may e.g. comply with any one or a combination of LTE-SAE (Long Term Evolution - System Architecture Evolution), W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiplex), EDGE

(Enhanced Data Rates for GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) Evolution), GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), CDMA2000 (Code Division Multiple Access 2000), or any other current or future wireless network, such as LTE-Advanced, as long as the principles described hereinafter are applicable. In one embodiment, the mobile communication network is called a 3GPP network, Uplink communication (from the wireless terminal) and downlink communication (to the wireless terminal) between each wireless terminal 2 and the radio base station 1 occur over a wireless radio interface 4. The quality of the wireless radio interface 4 to each wireless terminal 2 can vary over time and depending on the position of the wireless terminal 2, due to effects such as fading, multipath propagation, etc.

The radio base stations 1 are also connected to the core network 3 for connectivity to central functions and a wide area network 7, such as the Internet.

Fig 9 is a schematic diagram showing some components of the wireless terminal 2. A processor 50 is provided using any combination of one or more of a suitable central processing unit (CPU), multiprocessor, microcontroller, digital signal processor (DSP), application specific integrated circuit etc., capable of executing software instructions contained in a computer program 58 stored in a computer program product 54, e.g. in the form of a memory, but not in the form of a signal or any form of electromagnetic wave. The processor 50 can be configured to execute the methods for a wireless device described herein.

The computer program product 54 is here a memory being any combination of read and write memory (RAM) and read only memory (ROM). The memory also comprises persistent storage, which, for example, can be any single one or combination of magnetic memory, optical memory, solid state memory or even remotely mounted memory. The processor 50 controls the general operation of the wireless device 1.

The wireless device 2 further comprises a data memory 59, which is a read- and-write memory. The data memory 59 may also comprises persistent storage, which, for example, can be any single one or combination of magnetic memory, optical memory, solid state memory or even remotely mounted memory. In one embodiment, the data memory 59 comprises a revision indicator 52 indicating from what revision the station count parameter of the BSS load element only includes those wireless terminals

(STAs) that are active. Optionally, the computer program product 54 and the data memory 59 can form part of the same memory device.

The wireless device 2 further comprises an I/O interface 57 for

communicating with external entities. The I/O interface 57 includes a user interface for receiving input from the user and providing feedback to the user, e.g. using a touch sensitive display, keypad, microphone, speaker, etc.

The wireless device 2 also comprises one or more transceivers 51 (or one or more separate transmitters and receivers), comprising analogue and digital components, and a suitable number of antennas for radio communication with radio base stations and/ or access points.

Fig 10 is a schematic diagram showing some components of the Wi-Fi AP. A processor 60 is provided using any combination of one or more of a suitable central processing unit (CPU), multiprocessor, microcontroller, digital signal processor (DSP), application specific integrated circuit etc., capable of executing software instructions contained in a computer program 68 stored in a computer program product 64, e.g. in the form of a memory, but not in the form of a signal or any form of electromagnetic wave. The processor 60 can be configured to execute the methods for a wireless device described herein. The computer program product 64 is here a memory being any combination of read and write memory (RAM) and read only memory (ROM). The memory also comprises persistent storage, which, for example, can be any single one or combination of magnetic memory, optical memory, solid state memory or even remotely mounted memory. The processor 60 controls the general operation of the wireless device 1.

The AP further comprises a data memory 69, which is a read-and-write memory. The data memory 69 may also comprises persistent storage, which, for example, can be any single one or combination of magnetic memory, optical memory, solid state memory or even remotely mounted memory. The data memory 69 comprises a Wi-Fi parameter repository 62 for storing activity parameter(s), external utilisation parameter(s), bias parameter(s), etc. Optionally, the computer program product 64 and the data memory 69 can form part of the same memory device. The AP further comprises an I/O interface 67 for communicating with external entities, e.g. over a wired or wireless connection.

The AP also comprises one or more transceivers 61 (or one or more separate transmitters and receivers), comprising analogue and digital components, and a suitable number of antennas for radio communication with wireless terminals 2 over Wi-Fi.

The embodiments presented herein result in several beneficial effects.

A "BSS load element" enhanced to include more information discussed herein will enable the wireless terminal to perform a better estimation of the performance that it can expect in Wi-Fi and hence make a more informed access selection decision.

A new ANQP message will give the flexibility to provide wireless terminal specific load information (channel utilisation, active wireless terminal count, etc.) in a unicast manner, in a backward compatible fashion (i.e. keeping the legacy broadcast of BSS as is). Scaling the "BSS load element" and/ or "WAN metrics element" up and down based on the wireless terminal's capability, RSSI/RCPI and/or network conditions gives the mobile operators a mechanism (mostly standard compliant) to influence the access selection regardless of the default wireless terminal behavior.

Figs 11A-B are flow charts illustrating methods performed in the access point of Fig 10. The access point provides wireless network access to one or more wireless terminals e.g. as show in Fig 3A. First, the method of Fig 11A will be described. In an obtain 1st activity parameter step 30, a first activity parameter is obtained. The first activity parameter indicates a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point. The first activity parameter is optionally part of a BSS load element message and can e.g. be the station count parameter 18 or the active station count parameter 29 of Fig 5.

The first activity parameter can be broadcast to the wireless terminals which are connected to the access point or could be transmitted to a specific wireless terminal as a response to a request from the wireless terminal. When there is transmission to a specific wireless terminal, the communication can e.g. occur using ANQP.

In one embodiment, the first activity parameter is scaled up or down depending on wireless terminal capability and/ or operator policy. In this way, the operator can "falsely" increase the perceived load for the Wi-Fi network for the wireless terminal, so that the wireless terminal "sees" the Wi- Fi network as loaded and, on a margin decision, decides to stay in the mobile communication network. On the other hand, if the operator wants to promote offloading to Wi-Fi, the first activity parameter can be scaled down so that the wireless terminal "sees" the Wi-Fi network as not overloaded and, on a margin decision, decides to connect to it. The first activity parameter indicates a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point. Actively communicating can indicate that a wireless terminal is receiving and/or transmitting data from/to the access point.

Optionally, a wireless terminal is considered to be actively communicating as long as an inactivity timer for the wireless terminal in question has not expired. In one embodiment, the inactivity timer is only reset when data more than a threshold level is communicated between the access point and the wireless terminal in question before the inactivity timer expires. In a transmit 1st activity parameter step 32, the first activity parameter is transmitted to one or more of the wireless terminals.

The method can be repeated to ensure the first activity parameter is regularly provided to the wireless terminals which are connected to the AP.

In Fig 11B embodiments similar to the method shown in Fig 11A are shown. The steps of the method of Fig 11A will not be described here again unless they are modified in some way.

In an obtain 2nd activity parameter step 31, a second activity parameter is obtained which indicates a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point. In an obtain external utilisation parameter step 33, an external utilisation parameter is obtained. The external utilisation parameter indicates non- Wi- Fi utilisation on a wireless communication channel of the access point. This can e.g. be related to the channel utilisation field (19 of Fig 5) off the BSS load element 15. For the channel utilisation, the AP is "listening" for transmissions continuously (regardless of whether they are Wi-Fi ones or non- Wi-Fi ones). This allows the AP to tell how much of the total time is occupied by

transmissions. However, the AP can also differentiate between the Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi by decoding the frames on the medium. If the frames are non- decodable, the utilisation is deemed to be non-Wi-Fi. In an obtain bias parameter step 35, a bias parameter is obtained. This is a parameter which can be set by the operator to influence how the wireless terminal perceives of load in the Wi-Fi network. As explained above, this can influence the first activity parameter or any other suitable parameter which affects the likelihood of a wireless terminal associating with the Wi-Fi network in question. The bias parameter can depend on the capability of the wireless terminal, signal level, etc. Additionally or alternatively, the bias parameter could depend on the subscription associated with the wireless terminal, such that premium subscribers are prioritised. In an apply biasing step 36, the bias parameter is applied to a previously obtained capacity affecting parameter, to increase or decrease the capacity affecting parameter, resulting in a biased capacity affected parameter.

In a transmit 2nd activity parameter step 34, the second activity parameter is transmitted. The second parameter indicates the total number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point. The second parameter can be an extension to the BSS load element shown in Fig 5. By providing the total number of connected wireless terminals to the wireless terminal, the wireless terminal can determine the number of passive terminals by subtracting the total number of connected wireless terminals with the number of active wireless terminals. A passive wireless terminal is likely to, at some point, become an active wireless terminal again. In this way, the wireless terminal is given a more complete picture for deciding whether to attempt to connect or not.

In a transmit external utilisation parameter step 36, the external utilisation parameter is transmitted to the wireless terminal.

In a transmit biased capacity step 38, the biased capacity is transmitted to the wireless terminal. Optionally, the biased capacity is instead transmitted transparently as the first activity parameter and/ or second activity parameter in the transmit 1st activity parameter step 32 and/or the transmit 2nd activity parameter step 34. It is to be noted that two or more of the transmit steps 32, 34, 36 and 38 may be combined into a single transmission of a data element containing several parameters. Moreover, it is to be noted that the transmissions of step 34, 36 and 38 may occur in the same way or in a different way to the transmission of the first activity parameter.

The method can be repeated to ensure the first activity parameter is regularly provided to the wireless terminals which are connected to the AP.

Fig 12 is a flow chart illustrating a method performed in the wireless terminal of Fig 9. The method is performed prior to a decision whether to connect to a particular Wi-Fi AP.

In a receive standard version step 40, a broadcast signal is received from the access point in question. The broadcast signal indicates a Wi-Fi

standard/revision of the access point.

In an optional transmit ANQP request step 41, the wireless terminal sends an ANQP message requesting the access point to send the first activity parameter, wherein the ANQP message comprises capability information of the wireless device.

In a receive activity parameter step 42, a first activity parameter is received. This step corresponds to the transmission of the transmit 1st activity parameter step 32 of Figs 11A-B, whereby the first activity parameter indicates the number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point. The AP can send the 1st activity parameter as part of a broadcast signal or as a unicast message to the wireless terminal, e.g. as a response to when the transmit ANQP request step 41 is performed. It is to be noted that the standard version and the activity parameter may form part of one signal received from the access point.

In a conditional new version step 43, it is determined whether the Wi-Fi standard/revision is newer than or equal to a revision indicator. The revision indicator is stored in the memory (59 of Fig 9) and indicates from what version of Wi-Fi standard/ revision that the station count only includes those wireless terminals (STAs) that are active. If the determination is positive, the method proceeds to an interpret as actively communicating step 44.

Otherwise, the method proceeds to an interpret as total number of connected step 46.

In the interpret as actively communicating step 44, the first activity parameter is interpreted to indicate the number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point. In the interpreted as total # of connected step 46, the first activity parameter is interpreted to indicate the total number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point.

In a determine whether to connect step 48, it is determined whether to connect to the access point based on the first activity parameter. Using this method, the wireless terminal utilises the station count indicating only active wireless terminals whenever possible, i.e. when the Wi-Fi version is sufficiently recent to support this. Moreover, the legacy interpretation of the station count indicating all connected wireless terminals is supported also. Fig 13 is a schematic diagram showing one example of a computer program product 90 comprising computer readable means. On this computer readable means a computer program 91 can be stored, which computer program can cause a processor to execute one or more methods according to embodiments described herein. In this example, the computer program product is an optical disc, such as a CD (compact disc) or a DVD (digital versatile disc) or a Blu-Ray disc. As explained above, the computer program product could also be embodied in a memory of a device, such as the computer program product 54 of Fig 9 or the computer program product 64 of Fig 10 or as a removable solid state memory such as a USB (Universal Serial Bus) memory. While the computer program 91 is here schematically shown as a track on the depicted optical disk, the computer program can be stored in any way which is suitable for the computer program product.

Fig 14 is a schematic diagram showing functional modules of the wireless terminal 2 of Fig 9. The modules can be implemented using software instructions such as a computer program executing in the wireless terminal 2 and/ or using hardware, such as application specific integrated circuits, field programmable gate arrays, discrete logical components, transceivers, etc. The modules correspond to the steps in the methods illustrated in Figs 12.

A receiver 70 is determined to receive Wi-Fi standard/revision of the access point and the first activity parameter. This module corresponds to the receive standard version step 40 and the receive activity parameter step 42 of Fig 12.

A version determiner 72 is arranged to determine when the Wi-Fi

standard/revision is newer than or equal to the revision indicator. This module corresponds to the conditional new version step 43 of Fig 12.

An interpreter 74 is arranged to interpret the first activity parameter in dependence of the determination performed by the version determiner. This module corresponds to the interpret as actively communicating step 44 and the interpret as total # of connected step 46 of Fig 12. An connect determiner 75 is arranged to determine when to connect to the Wi-Fi access point. This module corresponds to the determine whether to connect step 48 of Fig 12.

Fig 15 is a schematic diagram showing functional modules of the Wi-Fi access point 4 of Fig 10. The modules can be implemented using software

instructions such as a computer program executing in the access point 4 and/ or using hardware, such as application specific integrated circuits, field programmable gate arrays, discrete logical components, transceivers, etc. The modules correspond to the steps in the methods illustrated in Figs 11A-B. A parameter obtainer 80 is arranged to obtain various parameters when needed, such as the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, the external utilisation parameter and the bias parameter. This step corresponds to the obtain 1st activity parameter step 30 of Figs 11A-B and the obtain 2nd activity parameter step 31, obtain external utilisation parameter step 33 and obtain bias parameter step 35 of Fig 11B.

A biaser 82 is arranged to apply biasing when needed. This module corresponds to the apply biasing step 36 of Fig 11B.

A transmitter 84 is arranged to transmit various parameters as needed, such as the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, the external utilisation parameter and a biased capacity. This module corresponds to the transmit 1st activity parameter of Figs 11A-B and the transmit 2nd activity parameter step 34, transmit external utilisation parameter step 36 and transmit biased capacity step 38 of Fig 11B. Here now follows a list of embodiments, enumerated with roman numerals. i. A method, performed in an access point, the access point providing wireless network access to one or more wireless terminals, the method comprising:

obtaining a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point; and

transmitting the first activity parameter to a wireless terminal. ii. The method according to embodiment i, wherein the step of obtaining a first activity parameter comprises obtaining the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point. iii. The method according to embodiment ii, wherein actively

communicating can indicate a wireless terminal receiving and/ or

transmitting data from/to the access point. iv. The method according to embodiment i, further comprising:

obtaining a second activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point, and

transmitting the second activity parameter to the wireless terminal. v. The method according to any one of embodiments ii to iv, wherein a wireless terminal is considered to be actively communicating as long as an inactivity timer for the wireless terminal in question has not expired. vi. The method according to embodiment v, wherein the inactivity timer is only reset when data more than a threshold level is communicated between the access point and the wireless terminal in question before the inactivity timer expires. vii. The method according to any one of the preceding embodiments, further comprising:

obtaining an external utilisation parameter, the external utilisation parameter indicating non-Wi-Fi utilisation on a wireless communication channel of the access point;

transmitting the external utilisation parameter to the wireless terminal. viii. The method according to any one of the preceding embodiments, further comprising:

obtaining a bias parameter;

applying the bias parameter to a previously obtained capacity affecting parameter, to increase or decrease the capacity affecting parameter, resulting in a biased capacity affected parameter; and

transmitting the biased capacity affected parameter to the wireless terminal. ix. The method according to any one of the preceding embodiments, wherein any mentioned parameters are transmitted as part of a BSS, Basic Service Set, load element message. x. The method according to any one of the preceding embodiments, wherein any mentioned parameters are broadcast to the wireless terminal. xi. The method according to any one of embodiments i to ix, wherein any mentioned parameters are transmitted specifically to the wireless terminal as a response to a request from the wireless terminal. xii. A Wi-Fi access point of a Wi-Fi network, the access point providing wireless network access to one or more wireless terminals, the Wi-Fi access point comprising:

a processor; and

a computer program product storing instructions that, when executed by the processor, causes the Wi-Fi access point to:

obtain a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point; and transmit the first activity parameter to a wireless terminal. The invention has mainly been described above with reference to a few embodiments. However, as is readily appreciated by a person skilled in the art, other embodiments than the ones disclosed above are equally possible within the scope of the invention.

Claims

1. A method, performed in an access point (4), the access point (4) providing wireless network access to one or more wireless terminals (2), the method comprising:
obtaining (30) a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals (2) which are connected to the access point (4) and which are actively communicating with the access point (4); and
transmitting (32) the first activity parameter to a wireless terminal (2).
2. The method according to claim 1, wherein actively communicating indicates a wireless terminal (2) receiving and/or transmitting data from/to the access point.
3. The method according to claim 1 or 2, further comprising:
obtaining (31) a second activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals (2) which are connected to the access point, and
transmitting (34) the second activity parameter to the wireless terminal
(2).
4. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein a wireless terminal (2) is considered to be actively communicating as long as an inactivity timer for the wireless terminal in question has not expired.
5. The method according to claim 4, wherein the inactivity timer is only reset when data more than a threshold level is communicated between the access point (4) and the wireless terminal (2) in question before the inactivity timer expires.
6. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising:
obtaining (33) an external utilisation parameter, the external utilisation parameter indicating non-Wi-Fi utilisation on a wireless communication channel of the access point (4); and transmitting (36) the external utilisation parameter to the wireless terminal (2).
7. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising:
obtaining (35) a bias parameter;
applying (36) the bias parameter to a previously obtained capacity affecting parameter, to increase or decrease the capacity affecting parameter, resulting in a biased capacity affected parameter; and
transmitting the biased capacity affected parameter to the wireless terminal.
8. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter are transmitted as part of a BSS, Basic Service Set, load element message.
9. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter are broadcast to the wireless terminal.
10. The method according to any one of claims 1 to 8, wherein, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter are transmitted specifically to the wireless terminal as a response to a request from the wireless terminal.
11. The method according to claim 10, where the communication between the wireless terminal and the access point occurs using ANQP, Access Network Query Protocol, messages.
12. The method according to claim 10 or 11, wherein, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter are transmitted scaled up or down depending on wireless terminal capability and/ or operator policy.
13. A Wi-Fi access point (4) of a Wi-Fi network, the access point providing wireless network access to one or more wireless terminals (2), the Wi-Fi access point comprising:
a processor (60); and
a computer program product (64, 90) storing instructions that, when executed by the processor (60), causes the Wi-Fi access point to:
obtain a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point (4); and
transmit the first activity parameter to a wireless terminal.
14. The Wi-Fi access point (4) according to claim 13, wherein the instructions to obtain a first activity parameter comprise instructions that, when executed by the processor (60), causes the Wi-Fi access point to consider actively communicating to indicate a wireless terminal (2) receiving and/ or transmitting data from/ to the access point.
15. The Wi-Fi access point (4) according to claim 13 or 14, further comprising instructions that, when executed by the processor (60), causes the Wi-Fi access point to:
obtain a second activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals (2) which are connected to the access point and which are actively communicating with the access point (4), and
transmit the second activity parameter to the wireless terminal (2).
16. The Wi-Fi access point (4) according to any one of claims 13 to 15, wherein the instructions to obtain a first activity parameter comprise instructions that, when executed by the processor (60), causes the Wi-Fi access point to consider a wireless terminal (2) to be actively communicating as long as an inactivity timer for the wireless terminal in question has not expired.
17. The Wi-Fi access point (4) according to claim 16, wherein the instructions to obtain a first activity parameter comprise instructions that, when executed by the processor (60), causes the Wi-Fi access point to reset the inactivity timer only when data more than a threshold level is
communicated between the access point (4) and the wireless terminal (2) in question before the inactivity timer expires.
18. The Wi-Fi access point (4) according to any one of claims 13 to 17, further comprising the instructions that, when executed by the processor (60), causes the Wi-Fi access point to:
obtain an external utilisation parameter, the external utilisation parameter indicating non-Wi-Fi utilisation on a wireless communication channel of the access point (4); and
transmit the external utilisation parameter to the wireless terminal (2).
19. The Wi-Fi access point (4) according to any one of claims 13 to 18, further comprising instructions that, when executed by the processor (60), causes the Wi-Fi access point to:
obtain a bias parameter;
apply the bias parameter to a previously obtained capacity affecting parameter, to increase or decrease the capacity affecting parameter, resulting in a biased capacity affected parameter; and
transmit the biased capacity affected parameter to the wireless terminal.
20. The Wi-Fi access point (4) according to any one of claims 13 to 19, further comprising instructions that, when executed by the processor (60), causes the Wi-Fi access point to transmit, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter as part of a BSS, Basic Service Set, load element message.
21. The Wi-Fi access point (4) according to any one of claims 13 to 20, further comprising instructions that, when executed by the processor (60), causes the Wi-Fi access point to broadcast, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter to the wireless terminal.
22. The Wi-Fi access point (4) according to any one of claims 13 to 20, further comprising instructions that, when executed by the processor (60), causes the Wi-Fi access point to transmit, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter specifically to the wireless terminal as a response to a request from the wireless terminal.
23. The Wi-Fi access point (4) according to claim 22, further comprising instructions that, when executed by the processor (60), causes the Wi-Fi access point perform the communication with the wireless terminal using ANQP, Access Network Query Protocol, messages.
24. The Wi-Fi access point (4) according to claim 22 or 23, further comprising instructions that, when executed by the processor (60), causes the Wi-Fi access point to scale up or down, when present, the first activity parameter, the second activity parameter, and/ or the external utilisation parameter depending on wireless terminal capability and/ or operator policy.
25. A computer program (91) comprising computer program code which, when run on an access point (4) providing wireless network access to one or more wireless terminals (2), causes the access point (4) to:
obtain a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals (2) which are connected to the access point (4) and which are actively communicating with the access point (4); and
transmit the first activity parameter to a wireless terminal (2).
26. A computer program product comprising a computer program
according to claim 25 and a computer readable means on which the computer program is stored.
27. A method performed in a wireless terminal (2) comprising :
receiving (40) a broadcast signal from an access point (4), the broadcast signal indicating a Wi-Fi standard/revision of the access point;
receiving (42) a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals (2) which are connected to the access point (4);
when the Wi-Fi standard/ revision is newer than or equal to a revision indicator, interpreting (44) the first activity parameter to indicate the number of wireless terminals (2) which are connected to the access point (4) and which are actively communicating with the access point (4);
when the Wi-Fi standard/revision is older than the revision indicator, interpreting (46) the first activity parameter to indicate the total number of wireless terminals (2) which are connected to the access point (4); and
determining (48) whether to connect to the access point (4) based on the first activity parameter.
28. The method according to claims 27, wherein a wireless terminal (2) is considered to be actively communicating with the access point (4) as long as an inactivity timer for the wireless terminal in question has not expired.
29. The method according to claim 28, wherein the inactivity timer is only reset when data more than a threshold level is communicated between the access point (4) and the wireless terminal (2) in question before the inactivity timer expires.
30. The method according to any one of claims 27 to 29, further comprising the step of:
transmitting (41) an ANQP, Access Network Query Protocol, message requesting the access point (4) to send the first activity parameter, wherein the ANQP message comprises capability information of the wireless terminal.
31. A wireless terminal (2) comprising:
a processor (260); and
a computer program product (164, 90) storing instructions that, when executed by the processor (260), causes the wireless terminal (2) to:
receive a broadcast signal from an access point (4), the broadcast signal indicating a Wi-Fi standard/revision of the access point;
receive a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals (2) which are connected to the access point (4);
when the Wi-Fi standard/ revision is newer than or equal to a revision indicator, interpret the first activity parameter to indicate the number of wireless terminals (2) which are connected to the access point (4) and which are actively communicating with the access point (4);
when the Wi-Fi standard/revision is older than the revision indicator, interpret the first activity parameter to indicate the total number of wireless terminals (2) which are connected to the access point (4); and
determine whether to connect to the access point (4) based on the first activity parameter.
32. A computer program (91) comprising computer program code which, when run on a wireless terminal (2), causes the wireless terminal (2) to:
receive a broadcast signal from an access point (4), the broadcast signal indicating a Wi-Fi standard/revision of the access point;
receive a first activity parameter, the first activity parameter indicating a number of wireless terminals (2) which are connected to the access point
(4);
when the Wi-Fi standard/ revision is newer than or equal to a revision indicator, interpret the first activity parameter to indicate the number of wireless terminals (2) which are connected to the access point (4) and which are actively communicating with the access point (4);
when the Wi-Fi standard/revision is older than the revision indicator, interpret the first activity parameter to indicate the total number of wireless terminals (2) which are connected to the access point (4); and
determine whether to connect to the access point (4) based on the first activity parameter.
33. A computer program product comprising a computer program
according to claim 32 and a computer readable means on which the computer program is stored.
PCT/SE2013/051592 2013-01-18 2013-12-20 Integration between wi-fi and mobile communication networks WO2014112922A2 (en)

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Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US8005055B2 (en) * 2003-07-23 2011-08-23 Interdigital Technology Corporation Method and apparatus for determining and managing congestion in a wireless communications system
US20080002641A1 (en) * 2006-06-30 2008-01-03 Symbol Technologies, Inc. Media type access category based load leveling for a wireless network
GB2491226A (en) * 2011-05-27 2012-11-28 Vodafone Ip Licensing Ltd Single band query of frequency bands supported by a multi-band WLAN access point

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